“The Band Played On”


Known by the chorus, "Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde, and the band played on...." The verses concern the social club founded by Matt Casey, and the kissing, courting, and dancing which took place there


According to Gilbert, Palmer could not sell this song to anyone. One day, Ward heard him humming the tune, took it and touched it up, and thus was a hit born.

James J. Geller's story is more detailed. Palmer's sister Pauline had ordered breakfast, but her servant did not respond quickly; there was a streat band performing. Pauline tried to hurry the servant, but Palmer said, "Let the band play on." Pauline told him that that would be a good song title.

Palmer eventually evolved the story of Matt Casey, his social club, and his wooing of his strawberry blonde wife. The rest is as in Gilbert.

An 1878 song by Harrigan and Braham was called "The Casey Social Club"; I don't know if it provided a degree of inspiration. - RBW


  • Dan Quinn, "The Band Played On" (Berliner 0961, 1898)


  1. Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 163-164, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Geller-Famous, pp. 75-80, "The Band Played On" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Gilbert, p. 254, "The Band Played On" (1 partial text)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 246, "The Band Played On" (1 text)
  5. Fuld-WFM, p. 123, "The Band Played On"
  7. Roud #9615
  8. BI, SRW163


Author: Words: John F. Palmer / Music: Charles B. Ward
Earliest date: 1895 (New York World)
Keywords: courting dancing music